Jim Mallinder admits it was good to have Courtney Lawes back after the England star completed the full 80 minutes in the defeat to Racing 92.
Lawes had not played since injuring his knee in the loss against Sale Sharks on November 1, but he was able to finish the game at Stade Yves-du-Manoir.
And that was a positive for Saints, who have been short of the likes of Calum Clark and Tom Wood in recent weeks.
“It’s a big ask to go into a game like that when you’ve been out for six weeks and not really done too much running,” said Mallinder after his side’s 33-3 Champions Cup defeat.
“It’s been a knee injury so clearly his fitness will improve the more games he played.
“We’re pleased to have him back.”
Lawes, typically a lock, started the game at six.
And Mallinder feels he performed well in the position.
“He’s played a little bit on the flank for us before, but second row is probably still his best position,” said the director of rugby.
“He gives you a very good lineout option, he’s good around the field and he put in some cracking tackles, particularly in the first half, so we’re pleased with his performance.”